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Enabling autocompletion for dynamic return types in PhpStorm

If you’re using PhpStorm you probably make heavy use of it’s autocomplete features. The IDE can, for most classes, suggests all accessible functions. Unfortunately, when a function has a dynamic return type PHPStorm will leave you out in the cold. So when resolving something out of Laravel’s IoC-container PhpStorm cannot help you. Here’s an example with one of the repositories of Blender:

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 20.42.42

PhpStorm can’t suggest functions because it doesn’t know which class the make-function will return. Let’s fix that.

The DynamicReturnType plugin provides a way to dynamically specify the return type of a function. You can install it like every other PHPStorm plugin. Next you’ll have to create a file called dynamicReturnTypeMeta.json in the root of your project with this contents:

    "methodCalls": [
            "class": "\\Illuminate\\Contracts\\Foundation\\Application",
            "method": "make",
            "position": 0

This configuration will tell PHPStorm that the return type of the make-function of Illuminate\Contracts\Foundation\Application will return an instance of class specified in the first argument.

With this file in place PHPStorm can perform autocompleting:

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 20.34.59

To learn all other possibilities the plugin offers, read it’s documentation on GitHub.

Update: As Nicolas Widart mentions in the comments below there’s another (and maybe easier way) to get autocompletion when resolving stuff from Laravel’s IoC-container. The ide-helper package can generate a meta file that, when indexed, will make PhpStorm understand which object gets returned.

Freek Van der Herten is a partner and developer at Spatie, an Antwerp based company that specializes in creating web apps with Laravel. After hours he writes about modern PHP and Laravel on this blog. When not coding he’s probably rehearsing with his kraut rock band.